Ron Hall Fields Fire Alarm & Sprinkler Questions About 2 Pocahontas Schools

Back at the August 21st Pocahontas County Board of Education meeting, Michelle Jeffers asked the Board for clarification about the status of the sprinkler and fire alarm systems at Green Bank Elementary -Middle and Marlinton Elementary Schools. Jeffers said the Fire Marshall’s recent report seems to indicate those systems are in better shape “than the public has been led to believe.” Superintendent Beam said that he would have Ron Hall, the Director of Maintenance for the Schools provide answers at a future Board meeting. So Ron Hall appeared at the September 11th Board of Education to answer Jeffers’ questions.

The first question Hall answered was whether the repairs made during the summer meet the Fire Marshall’s standards?  Hall said that if they had not meet the standards, the State would not have let them open the schools, so yes they did.

The second question was how much in addition would it cost to meet any remaining mandatory deficiencies? Hall said that if it is mandatory, there is no waiting, it has to be fixed immediately. Hall added:

“Every system is up and running to the Fire Marshall’s standards” said Hall. “But understand how all this works. Let’s use Marlinton Elementary (as an example.) It has over 300 feet of four inch pipe, OK?  Off those four inch pipes. All these pipes, one inch, two inch, all finger out from that big four inch pipe. They go through all of the classrooms and bathrooms and the closets and all of that. What happens is that over time the corrosive water eats at the threads – that’s the thinnest part, anybody who has ever messed with pipes knows that – and that’s where they start breaking. They said ‘why don’t you address this before it happens?’ OK, where do I start? Which six thousand feet of the pipe? Because we don’t know which threads are going to break next? I can start on this end and they break on the other end, or I can start on both ends and fix them and they break in the middle. There is no rhyme or reason to how it works.”

Hall then summarized his answer to both questions.

“I did bring in Fire and Life Safety of America” said Hall. “They did fix the pipes that we had this summer, so everything at this point is operational. What we have, folks is a temporary fix to a permanent problem.”

Hall said despite the repairs made, it is entirely possible that he could wake up tomorrow and find water all over both the Marlinton Elementary and the Green Bank schools. He said that Fire and Life Safety America has provided a rough estimate which was that to properly repair the sprinkler systems at Green Bank and Marlinton Elementary would cost about $250,000 each, and to properly repair the 35 year old alarm systems at both schools would be about $100,000 at each of the schools. Hall said it might cost a little less, but those estimates were in line with other estimates he received from another company.

In other actions at the meeting, the Board heard from.joe Riley, Principal of Pocahontas County High School who said he is implementing a program whereby CTE Seniors who have met their core graduation requirements can spend part of the day working for area companies to gain experience and to already have a job lined up when they graduate. He is also trying to establish a West Virginia CDL course to at least get CTE students the written part of the CDL classes, but would like to find some way to get them the road test training as well if they can find suitable trucks. He also said that the 7 period classes while still in a learning curve seem to be working out well.

The Board approved routine financial reports; bids for a school bus purchase, and to replace the school zone flasher at Hillsboro Elementary School; field trips; policies; volunteers and other contracts and memorandums of understanding as well as a personnel agenda, A link to all of these can be found with this story at

Below is a link to the complete and approved agenda from the September 11th Pocahontas County Board of Education meeting which includes the passed personnel agenda. Please note the two corrections to the personnel agenda, one a typo where “Marlinton Elementary School should read “Marlinton Middle School” and the other where Freda Cananda’s name was pulled without a vote from employment as a Substitute Cook.

9-11-17 BOE Agenda and Personnel Agenda

Story By

Tim Walker

Tim is the WVMR News Reporter. Tim is a native of Maryland who started coming to Pocahontas County in the 1970’s as a caver. He bought land on Droop Mountain off Jacox Road in 1976 and built a small house there in the early 80’s. While still working in Maryland, Tim spent much time at his place which is located on the Friars Hole Cave Preserve. Retiring in 2011 as a Lieutenant with the Anne Arundel County Police Department in Maryland, Tim finally took the plunge and moved from Maryland to his real home on Droop Mountain. He began working as the Pocahontas County Reporter for Allegheny Mountain Radio in January of 2015.

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